Curt Schilling tackled a couple of hot topics on WEEI radio Friday: the David Ortiz-Dan Shaughnessy PED controversy and the Clay Buchholz ball-sliming scandal.
On the David Ortiz matter, Schilling backs his former teammate and knocks Shaughnessy for once again trying to insert himself into the news. “Because it’s as important for him to be a part of the story as it is to write the story,” Schilling said. “And players have a problem with that.”
He also talks about steroids in general and again states how he never knew how big of a problem it was a problem in his prime years. He believes the testing program now is much better than ever before, and he can’t resist taking a dig at another former teammate:
I do believe that including bloodwork was a game-changer. Here’s what I would say now: Now if you get caught, you’re either Manny Ramirez dumb or you’re going to such extremes to try and cheat and beat a blood test that you deserve whatever they throw at you. It’s obviously not going to stop everybody. But when the players’ association, rightfully so, agreed to include blood testing, that was a game-changer for me. It was something that I never ever thought the Players Association would approve or be OK with. But God bless them, they did.
On the subject of Buchholz and foreign substances, Schilling admitted that he used BullFrog sunscreen, too:
Here’s the thing: I did it. And I did it for the same reasons Clay did it. I would tell you there is no ballpark harder to grip a baseball in than the SkyDome [Rogers Centre]. It is the hardest and the driest environment — for me it was — in the big leagues. I had no saliva, I had cotton mouth in that stadium all the time. You needed something, and it was to keep a grip. You can’t cheat by getting an extra grip on the ball. That’s not how you cheat. You cheat by getting the ball moist and wet. If that was what Clay was trying to do, he would have been doing the opposite of what he actually did. You want the ball to be slick. You want it to be almost like — not spit, but water. He was actually using that stuff to keep a grip.
Jerry Spar has a lengthier transcript with more Schilling quotes over at WEEI.com, along with a link to the interview audio.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.